The Hundredth Meridian

The Villas of New Mexico

“Hey, compadrito—bring the mail along with you when you come inside!” Héctor Villa shouted through the open window to Jesús Juárez, his friend, who was just letting himself into the yard by the front gate where the mailbox, painted red-white-and-blue, stood on a barbershop post.

Héctor “Pancho” Villa was having a pleasant Saturday morning in June, sitting late at the kitchen table over his morning coffee while his wife, AveMaria, weeded the garden patch behind the house and their daughter, Contracepción, minded Dubya, the baby, named for Héctor’s greatest hero after the late Francisco Villa, Centaur of the North.  (As Héctor and AveMaria had agreed that the little boy would be their last child, Héctor thought it particularly important that he should bear the name of a great man and a patriot.)  Master of all he surveyed (if he didn’t lift his chin too high toward the Manzano Mountains east of Belen, or glance too far to the rather prim and, to his mind, sterile houses left or right), he felt satisfied and assured, altogether pleased with himself as his sight caressed the artistic assemblage of art objects arranged before him on the front lawn: the miniature drill rig painted orange, yellow, and purple; the windmill nearly as tall as the house itself that drew water upward from a tank buried in the ground beneath it;...

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